Does remote working hurt women’s progress? By Laura Rofe, Strategic Partnerships Manager at PPROOver the last two years, the number of Europeans working regularly from home has at least doubled . In some ways, that’s great. It’s more convenient. It cuts the time and money spent on commuting. And it can enable a better work-life balance.But there are potential downsides. If everyone is working remotely much of the time, it’s easy for people to become disconnected from the larger team and for their work to go under appreciated. While this can impact anyone, there is the risk that it will particularly disadvantage women. A survey published last year found that two-thirds of millennial women believe they’ll miss career opportunities by not being in the office.Many of us have spent years building formal and informal mentorship and networking programmes designed to give women access to the types of professional relationships and opportunities that men often enjoyed as a matter of course. If we all become, just a face — or voice — on a computer screen, we risk all the work unraveling. So, what can employers do, to ensure that women’s work and talent continues to be seen, recognized and rewarded in this new era of remote and hybrid working? Tips for managing remote or hybrid teams1. Never treat remote staff as an afterthought. Any company announcement or meeting should be set up to allow remote staff to dial in, so they get the news at the same time as everyone else. 2. Allow, and encourage, employees to nominate and highlight their and their colleagues’ successes and contributions. Have a system which enables them to do this.3. Ensure that all opportunities aren’t just publicized to everyone, remote and on site, but that it is clear they are open to everyone who wants to apply for them, no matter where they work. 4. The company should develop best practices for managing hybrid teams, formalize these in official training and make sure that all managers take that training.Keeping track of progress (or lack thereof)Companies should also monitor what impact working remotely has on their staff’s careers. Do women who work from home take longer to get promoted than men — or than women who work on site? And so on. Look at the data. If remote working is undoing gender-equality gains, the sooner you see that in the data, the sooner you can do something about it. At PPRO, where over 40% of our team is female, learning and progression is a huge focus. We are always discussing how to best place and carry out processes and initiatives that promote and recognise staff members in ways that are adaptive to flexible working.Making your voice heard How can we as women ensure that our work is recognized even when we work apart from our colleagues? For starters, keep your manager informed about what you’re doing — and how it contributes to the team’s or the company’s success. Maintain open communication which can be via various channels that work for you and your manager for example; regular catch ups that are scheduled in the diary, sending brief messages regarding the week's accomplishments and challenges. Make sure you record the hours you work. This is particularly important, as home working often leads to a blurring between work time and personal life. Make sure your company knows not just about your results, but the effort you put in to achieve them. Finally, if a chance to work with teams beyond your normal role comes up, and if you are in a position to do so, grab it. This will help boost your profile within the company and ensure that you are not simply a name on a list or a ghost in the machine. And the kind of peer recognition that flows from this sort of opportunity strengthens your relationships within the company and reinforces how valuable you are. Remote and hybrid working has the potential to be one of the most positive developments in the workplace in decades. But to realize that potential, we need to ensure that this shift doesn’t disadvantage women and other traditionally excluded groups in the workplace. [FOOTNOTES] 1. https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/web/products-eurostat-news/-/ddn-20210923-1Read The Financial Technologist in Full Here.
Dacxi – The Crypto Wealth PlatformDacxi is the champion of democratising cryptocurrency and decentralised finance (or DeFi) within the UK. Both a wealth building platform and learning hub, it has led the charge in building a network of independent investors and partners It is now extending its activity to educating financial advisors and pension providers about the role digital currencies and tokens can play in portfolio asset allocation. Whilst the world of tokenised assets is expanding exponentially, Dacxi is selective in only offering ‘Blue Chip’ coins, selected challenger ‘altcoins’ and tokenised precious metals on its website. MD Katharine Wooller is clear that the business focus is not to act as an ‘exchange’ but a way for investors to build a crypto asset base:‘We don’t see Dacxi as a trading platform – there is plenty of choice for those who want to buy and sell on a speculative basis, trying to time the market for short term gain. Rather, at Dacxi, we believe in ‘time in the market’ recommending a long-term buy-and-hold strategy.’The business has also worked with external partners to develop ways to shelter capital gains made through crypto from tax. On the one hand it works with SSaS pension providers with clients looking to diversify 5-10% of their portfolios into assets that have the potential to significantly outperform traditional retirement assets. On the other, it has developed a ‘Cryptocurrency ISA’ that works through a Director’s Loan scheme.The Dacxi board takes developing relationships with financial intermediaries seriously. Gareth Cleverly, Dacxi Sales Director, is about to embark on a series of ‘Lunch and Learn’ roadshows dedicated to financial services professionals:‘We appreciate that to truly democratise crypto we have to demystify a sector that is only now starting to be taken seriously. It is clear that businesses like ours need to establish crypto’s bona fides. We’ve already seen the importance of this, working with individual investors at the start Underpinning those bona fides is the certainty that global commerce needs global currencies to reduce the transactional time and expense of foreign exchange and escape the propensity for central banks and sovereign nations to roll their printing presses and flood financial ecosystems with fiat currency, causing inflation. ‘For us it is not a question of ‘if’, but ‘when’ DeFi will become the global transactional exchange system of choice,’ says Wooller. ‘It’s not going to happen overnight, and it may not immediately affect the average man and woman at street level but, with multi-national businesses and financial services giants like PayPal and Visa gearing up for crypto, it will happen with increasing speed.’At first sight, in technology terms, the Dacxi offering may look little more than a digital wallet. However, the business has ‘skin in the game’ deep in the blockchain business through its own digital currency ‘Dacxicoin’. Designed to be a community coin and funding tool. It runs on Dacxi’s own proprietary blockchain technology which has been developed in-house and is called ‘The Dacxichain’. Dacxicoin is available on Dacxi’s own platform and is also traded on several Tier 2 exchanges. The sum total of Dacxicoin issued will be limited to 10 billion, thus representing a wealth building opportunity for investors and those working within the Dacxi ecosystem. Future applications for Dacxicoin include ‘crowd funding/lending’ for tech businesses, particularly start-ups, providing an opportunity for small independent investors to access exciting new ventures from initial offerings upwards.By 2025, through Dacxicoin, the business aspires to have:·100 countries with a national licensee operating in a powerful global network. Licensed, regulated and managed locally. ·Each country will have opportunities and access to new product sectors from Property Crowdfunding to Local Crypto. All designed to help them build wealth as quickly and safely as possible. ·A global innovation funding system that has the power to significantly fund opportunities in every country where Dacxi operates. ·A community of customers and investors supported locally, yet connected globally, able to introduce their friends and share their ideas and successes. The transactions within each country, and within the global network make up what’s called the ‘Dacxi Economy.’ The value of all of these elements has the potential to be in billions of dollars.Naturally, security for customers within the Dacxi ecosystem is paramount, as Sales Director Gareth Cleverly points out:‘Everything at Dacxi starts with security and it is one of the few exchange platforms where the ‘front-end’ interface is independently rated as A+. Also 98% of crypto assets are held in ‘cold’ wallets away from ‘hacking’ and the remaining 2% are held in hot wallets which are backed by cash reserves for full 100% security. The company does not risk its business by lending-out its customers’ assets.’With regard to democratising crypto, MD Katharine Wooller has paid particular attention to building and encouraging a ‘women in crypto’ community, running webinars and face-to-face training sessions designed to upskill women.‘Women traditionally prefer to save rather than invest,’ she says. ‘Crypto is a way to do both and our community of crypto ladies have been early adopters of regular monthly investing, following the concept of “pound cost averaging” to de-risk their portfolios from volatility and take advantage of buying the dips and running with the market upsides.’ As you might expect one of Dacxi’s main challenges is the noise created by the plethora of naysayers with regard to the future of crypto. Wooller’s response has been ‘education, education, education’, from grassroots level up to engaging with the FSA. Not surprisingly she has become one of the UK’s most sought-after commentators on ‘all things crypto’.Almost five years after its inception in 2017, Dacxi has carved out a unique position and proposition as the UK’s ‘champion of crypto’. Already it is looking towards the implications of what Web 3.0 and the Metaverse will mean to its business, partners and customers. ‘They may say that money never sleeps, but crypto is money on steroids having just had a major caffeine hit,’ Wooller claims. She and the business have their eyes facing positively to the future. And there seems little chance they’ll blink. Read Issue 1 2022 of the Financial Technologist here.
I recently attended an in-person industry conference for the first time in two years. I must admit it felt sightly weird (not quite a morning after ‘Day of the Triffids’, but…!). At the same time, I enjoyed the opportunity to escape from my desk and catch up with some old and new faces. The focus of the event was largely around cloud (I can’t believe this is still seen as a hot topic in 2022, but the reality is that adoption has been slow in capital markets), digital assets (looking beyond crypto and how institutional players can access this emerging asset class), and as-a-service / managed services.Some of the panels were pretty good, although it was interesting to note the overriding theme of the drastic need to rip cost out of the industry for it to survive let alone prosper. One key-note speaker painted a particularly bleak picture, highlighting how declining return on equity and increasing regulatory and compliance costs threatened the sustainability of banks and sell-side brokers. Widespread adoption of cloud technology and a wholesale shift to SaaS and managed service was put forward as a key part of the solution, turning infrastructure into a utility and lowering the unit cost to build, operate, and support it. In other words, combining the power of economies of scale and elastic compute to break free from the tractor beam of legacy cost structures.To be fair, this wasn’t the only point, and the case was made that both cloud and as-a-service models can inject greater speed into a business. There is no doubt that using such models to spin-up additional servers for application development or additional capacity in the face of rising data or transaction volumes is infinitely faster than purchasing and deploying hardware via the average bank procurement team. So, the answer to the meaning of life, the universe and everything (or at least capital markets cost structures) is not actually 42, but apparently reduced cost and increased agility.It is hard to argue with that in principle, and Rapid Addition has long advocated the need to reduce the unnecessary friction and associated costs in capital markets. We also see huge opportunity to leverage cloud, not just in market data but also for certain parts of the trading workflow (which is why we make our software platform ‘deployment environment’ agnostic). However, I couldn’t help thinking that the discussion was overly fixated on the cost side of the equation and there was a key element missing from the debate.While all banks and brokers want to drive down costs, we have increasingly seen the dialogue shift to one of revenue growth at many of our customers. In particular, innovative growth strategies that differentiate firms from their competitors, leveraging modern, more flexible technology. And while the need for efficiencies hasn’t gone away, we see our customers innovating in areas such client acquisition acceleration, expanding business with existing clients (for example, simplifying trading across multiple asset classes and products), or through the creation of completely new revenue streams. When I look at many of the projects we are involved in, this feels somewhat of a sea change – a shift from a regulatory dominated and cost-centric mindset to one of innovation and growth. What these firms are realising is that they are being held back by their current technology, much of which, while great at the time, has become increasingly legacy. A landscape of ‘closed’ products and proprietary technology no longer supports where business need to go. Economics and urgency also mean that building solutions fully in-house often makes little sense. However, we are seeing a new breed of flexible, Open API, fully interoperable and scalable technology help capital markets firms to realise their business strategies and plans.So, while the democratisation of common infrastructure is important, somewhere in the tech stack there needs to be a component that enables customers to bring their unique IP to the market and leverage their strengths. This is what will help them create value rather than merely manage costs. It’s fantastic, therefore, to see so many innovative and game-changing companies recognised by Harrington Starr in this year’s edition of the “The Most Influential Fintech Firms 2022”. These are the companies that will help change the dynamic of the industry and empower those organisations looking to regain the initiative through innovation and growth.Read Issue 1, 2022 of The Financial Technologist here.
'Procurement' has become something of a dirty word in some quarters. Procurement teams are often the whipping boy, positioned as the blocker or the bottleneck preventing large organisations from buying services efficiently.Nowhere is this more acute than in financial services, and particularly in capital markets. The financial services sector is desperate to buy innovation in order to ease its sclerosis; technologically-minded vendors are desperate to sell it. It's a no-brainer, right?Well, not quite. In fact, despite the huge demand for new ideas and better solutions within financial services, many service providers find it a near-impossible market to break into. Over the course of this series of articles, interviews, and events, we're going to look at the vendor-procurement relationship in financial services. We're going to explore the challenges and priorities for all the major categories of player in the market, ask what each could do to foster better understanding of the others, and consider some possible routes through which financial services procurement can improve - to everyone's benefit.Vendors, Procurement, EnablersThis market is split into three broad groups: vendors; procurement teams (along with other client-side stakeholders); and the small but growing crop of Enablers - consultancies and other service providers set up to ease the process.Vendors, of course, want to sell in their products to willing buyers. But many find that the barrier to entry is unfeasibly high, reporting lengthy contracting and onboarding times, and little visibility of their position in the procurement process.Vendors also complain of 'boilerplate' compliance demands, with a single and inflexible list of documentation requirements that does not reflect the nature of the vendor's business or the proposed commercial relationship. From the perspective of newly-established vendors, the smoothness (or otherwise) of a procurement process can represent the difference between survival and failure.Regulatory pressureClients, meanwhile, have their own set of specific requirements. In particular, Tier 1 and Tier 2 organisations continue to face significant regulatory pressure. This percolates through the value chain, manifesting as more onerous demands on vendors not only through the procurement process but beyond.Individual institutions also, of course, have their own risk appetites and assessment criteria. There is no guarantee that what is satisfactory to one client will be satisfactory to another.The market for financial services technology remains an immature one in which efficiencies and rationalisation are, according to many stakeholders, much needed. Our third group, the Enablers, are a particularly important piece of this puzzle. These businesses essentially exist to oil the machinery by which the vendor-client relationship operates. Through consultancy and professional services they aim to ease the way into the market, particularly for newly-established vendors.The Enablers are also laying the groundwork for the 'marketplace-ification' of financial services procurement, envisioning an arrangement in which vendors and clients are either connected through a platform that also handles some of the back-office tasks, or 'matchmade' by specialists.First-hand accountsOver the course of this series we will be speaking to stakeholders from all three groups, and asking what they think can be done better. How can the procurement process be made less onerous for vendors? Is that even something that we should aim for? How can the onboarding process be streamlined? Is there a way to rationalise procurement across the sector? And, most fundamentally, how can the sector ensure that it is innovating in the most efficient way possible?The series will culminate with a live round-table event in London. Read Issue 1 2022 of the Financial Technologist here.
The Upper Echelons of Fintech have Inclusion and Culture at the Heart Over the past 18 months, we’ve seen a proliferation of digital innovations targeted at niches brought on by new customer demands. Financial services have rapidly modernised thanks to collaborations with fintechs like Mambu, who are agile and flexible at their core. By embracing a culture of curiosity, collaboration, inclusion and disruption, we have been able to reach the upper echelons of today’s financial services providers. Building and Growing a Team CultureOne of the differentiators of great teams is great leaders. Leadership, like many things, is evolving with the impact of the pandemic and societal shifts and is something that should be continuously developed. People want to be inspired by the people they work with and for. They want to see their leaders and peers as human beings and vice versa. Traditionally, the employment relationship has followed the mannerisms of an ego-system whereby decision making is centralised. Mambu believes in the power of the team and strives to put as much control into our employees’ hands while reinforcing the role of modern day organisations - that we are all part of a larger ecosystem. As we continuously look to re-write the rules of workplace culture, inclusion is something we are actively embedding in our DNA. This year we’re going to be focused on what we’re calling ‘Living Leadership’, the idea that at Mambu, everyone is a leader. How we influence and work with others in the most inclusive way is a differentiator for a successful organisation to build trust and bring people together. It is a non-negotiable for the best teams in the virtual world we are living in. By investing in leadership development for all Mambuvians, everyone has the chance to step up. From the person serving our customers over the phone to the C-suite leader, we want everyone to be consciously aware of the impact they have through how they lead and influence others. The culture we are working towards must strike the right balance between the polarities in the world right now. Through this balance we can change people’s experiences and how they engage with the evolving world around them. Evolution in banking and finance is no exception. Whether it’s digital banks, challengers or niche spinoffs Mambu’s strategic approach allows inclusion to be built into financial services through innovations like open banking and embedded finance. Our talent is the driving force behind the diverse ecosystems required to level up how consumers finance and bank themselves. This is what it means to be a Mambuvian. To drive change through curiosity, by challenging the status quo and collaborating with others to find unique solutions to everyday problems and to always believe in the impossibleThe Importance of Being a Flexible Employer Deloitte has said that Covid-19 has been a time machine to the future for how we work. My perspective is that the old ways of working are not coming back! Companies that say we’ll get through this and everyone will return to the old way of working are kidding themselves. It is intense to win the hearts and minds of the best, most diverse talent thanks to ‘The Great Resignation’. People have more choices over how they work and who they work for. Equally important for today’s workforce is a company with a strong sense of corporate social responsibility who is actively impacting their communities in this hybrid world.We know to be successful we need a balance. It’s why we have a four-day work week in the summer months. This has been a signature benefit at Mambu for some time now! And we are currently reviewing our working practices by listening deeply to our people on what is important for them as we think about the next steps in our culture. The past years have massively shifted expectations and now it’s about understanding how, why and what can be done differently for our people. I truly believe that Mambu has a huge opportunity to not just disrupt financial services, but disrupt the world of work – a prospect that we are really excited by!This year we’re letting people know it’s ok not to be ok with all the changes in the workplace and the challenges in the world. We want our leaders to talk more about work-life integration, the events of the world, celebrate the most important ecosystem (our Mambuvian’s families and loved ones) and most importantly learn to achieve the right balance of all the contradictions in society. We’re showing everyone that we are all human and are in this together. The Great ResignationWhat hasn’t changed in the old and new world is that people join companies and leave leaders. It’s really all about trust, inclusion, purpose and ultimately followership. What worked historically and got us to where we are now won’t necessarily work in the next chapter. We need leaders to think about how they are going to change and what they will do differently. I lead a diverse team of people who all have individual needs and desires. A big part of my role is getting curious about everyone who works for me and asking myself critically the question - why should they follow me? Deeply connecting and understanding the needs of one person, whilst acknowledging that the person sitting next to them needs something completely different. That’s the differentiating factor for us all and it isn’t easy. And it is our challenge as leaders in this moment.The Future of Work Technology has also been a major disruptor in corporate environments. The lines between home and work were already blurring but the pandemic accelerated that much further. At home we bounce between apps and devices most of the day - whether to organise something personal or enable productivity at work. This creates an opportunity and challenge. By leveraging fast and collaborative tools in the workplace, we are more connected and thus gather greater data and insights on how to evolve and grow the business. Modern technology provides the tools needed to lead - like finding the best talent to developing employees and better understanding engagement levels.How we communicate with each other is fundamentally changing how we attract talent, how we predict employee behaviour, and how we measure performance. The combination of technology in our future of work presents a huge opportunity in particular for diversity and inclusion, both to remove bias and improve equity. I believe we are just at the start of the possibilities where technology advances great leadership and people practices. At Mambu we are eager to pioneer the human world of work and to disrupt the traditional corporate mentality, much the same way as we have done in banking. And we are very excited for what’s to come!
Driving the Prime of Prime Industry Forward When Raj Sitlani and Jonathan Brewer set up IS Prime with systematic hedge fund manager, ISAM in 2014 their vision was to create a better Prime of Prime offering than already existed in the global market... When Raj Sitlani and Jonathan Brewer set up IS Prime with systematic hedge fund manager, ISAM in 2014 their vision was to create a better Prime of Prime offering than already existed in the global market. They had decades of eFX experience between them from a sales, operations and management perspective and were determined to offer an enhanced client experience by doing things differently. Their aim was to lead the market with a technology driven approach, gain a competitive edge through proactive client relationships, and provide a superior liquidity offering by building exceptionally strong relationships with Liquidity Providers. Their vision helped them to attract a best in breed team and together they have achieved what Raj and Jonathan initially set out to do…and so much more.Outstanding TechnologyIS Prime’s proprietary technology capabilities were outstanding from the outset, leveraging ISAM’s quantitative trading expertise and setting them apart from the Prime of Prime offerings that already existed. The FCA regulated firm, which is part of the ISAM Capital Markets Group, has continued to push boundaries, making significant investments in technology in order to maintain its position as a market leader. The sophistication of IS Prime’s technology and execution tools remains unmatched in the industry, enabling them to optimise liquidity for institutional clients and provide consistent pricing and tight spreads. IS Prime’s specialist Flow Analytics and Smart Order Routing is particularly impressive, ensuring that their clients’ end customers can execute on the best possible liquidity pool for their trading styles.Raj Sitlani, Managing Director of ISAM Capital Markets, comments, “Our technology has been integral to our business success and our ongoing investments have enabled us to provide an even greater level of customisation and flexibility to institutional clients, with bespoke liquidity pools and execution rules.”Unrivalled LiquidityIS Prime’s success can also be attributed to its compelling liquidity offering.The team prides itself on its relationships with Tier 1 bank and non-bank Liquidity Providers. By managing these relationships carefully and also providing significant volumes to these LPs, the firm is able to negotiate exceptional pricing. In fact, IS Prime is amongst the largest global spot FX clients for many of its LPs.Raj Sitlani continues, “We select our Liquidity Providers very carefully and use our proprietary data analytics tools to inform our decisions. Clients benefit from our pricing but also from our highly customised approach. It is the combination of our liquidity and technology that has enabled us to grow and retain such an impressive global client base of retail brokers, hedge funds, asset managers and prop trading firms.”Building On SuccessIS Prime has ambitious growth plans, building on their success to date. They moved into large premises in the City last year to accommodate future growth and have plans in place to launch additional services, enter new territoriesand grow their team. They will continue to invest in their technology in order to stay ahead of the pack.To view the full issue of The Financial Technologist magazine click here
Neurodiversity for ‘Normal’ PeopleThe DEI conversation we need to start having.I hadn’t heard of the term “neurodivergent” or “neurodiversity” until I began my own personal research into my condition, Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD), which I was only diagnosed with when I was 21. Did you know 1 in 7 people (15%)in the UK are neurodivergent? The chances of having team members that sit within this group is higher than you might think, so why are we still lacking the useful information and resources needed to support these people? Personally, I think it’s because mental ‘disabilities’ have only recently become accepted. My grandparents have shared some distressing stories about how people with mental health conditions were treated in the past, from being locked away in a “mental home”, to being drugged up and declared hopeless. If only those people with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Tourettes Syndrome etc had the support and understanding we’re starting to see today. No wonder people are hesitant to seek diagnosis and try to ignore their symptoms; we’re recovering from a world where people like us were seen as mental, crazy outcasts!I saw an incredible video on LinkedIn depicting a hotel (Kimpton Fitzroy London) and their brilliant wheelchair access lift which they managed to “seamlessly integrate with [their] historic architecture”. It was simple, elegant, but most importantly, inclusive without question. As much as I wish more establishments were as proactive in implementing this, it goes without saying that if you see someone struggling physically, you leap in to help them. But what about those with hidden disabilities? How do you know? And how do you build their ideal working environment? Most can walk just fine and they don’t appear to be struggling, so what’s the big deal? It is imperative that we address this mindset to build neurodiverse company cultures.Neurodiversity simply aims to support all people, no matter how their brains are wired. I always say: We’re different, not deficient. In fact, many people believe that conditions like ADHD, ASD, or other mental health conditions have set symptoms, set needs and don’t cross-over. On the contrary, I firmly believe that being neurodivergent means you have needs spanning across an entire spectrum. I wouldn’t be surprised if a doctor turned around and told me I had ASD too; it’s more common in people with ADHD and I match a lot of the criteria, for example, hypersensitivity of the 5 senses and social anxiety.We’re all beginning to understand that the need for DEI efforts comes from a lack of awareness of other people’s struggles from those in privileged positions. If you’re a white, able-bodied, straight male, (you get a bonus point for being middle or upper class!) you will not know some of the struggles that, say, a black woman may have faced in her life due to her appearance and gender. Improvements are being made – slowly but surely – and it’s great to see people being honest and talking about how we can stamp out institutional racism and sexism. If we focus all DEI efforts to include people with disabilities too, I truly believe we will have cracked the code for inclusive and progressive industries.So, how would I describe the perfect formula to build the ideal work culture for ‘people like me’? Firstly, there’s no set blueprint or rules and I certainly don’t have all the answers, but from my own experience, it comes down to these key behaviours:Educate & Raise AwarenessGauge authentic discussions and ideas by engaging in focus groups and providing your people with the means to learn. This could be in the form of educational assemblies hosted by experts and people who live with a hidden disability, or simply encouraging your staff to watch resourceful videos. Equipping your team with knowledge and understanding about different needs is the best way to help everyone embrace each and every difference. If my team members fully understood how my ADHD affects my work, I would feel a lot more at ease and comfortable to express myself.Make it fitAs humans, we grow as individuals by working in fulfilling roles; something that’s meaningful and where we can excel. Too often, people who are neurodiverse are placed in jobs that don’t fit their talents. For example, some might be brilliant at logistics and patterns, system analysis etc, but may be expected to be creative at the same time – that’s not going to work. The same applies the other way round too, as the saying goes; you can’t fit a square peg into a round hole. I know from my personal experience that my superpower is being creative, that’s where I thrive. Put me in front of an excel sheet, or ask me to organise a set of systems and I become immobile… it’s just not where my abilities are.Revise your company’s communication strategiesSocial and emotional intelligence can be tricky for many neurodivergent people. However, if you encourage a safe space where they can express their personal challenges and discuss what will help, you will witness a more open culture of staff who are comfortable to embrace their individuality. Not everyone is comfortable engaging in laddy, hands-on banter with lots of eye contact, so be aware that other people may be uncomfortable in boisterous environments. If your staff work in the office full time, consider the need for a break-away room where staff can focus on their work in quieter, less stimulating conditions. While I love working with recruitment consultants, they’re on the phone constantly and that can sometimes overwhelm me, especially in an open-plan, brightly-lit office. Thankfully, we have the privilege of being able to work from home 2-3 days a week which is great when I feel I need some space and need to concentrate on deadlines/huge projects that require a lot of my attention.Going forward, perhaps you could start with an anonymous survey encouraging people to express their personal needs and challenges. It’s important to ensure your people, whether neurotypical or neurodivergent, work together to each other’s strengths to allow each of us to thrive in a more organic, progressive way. Give everyone their unique purpose. You will end up with a cognitively diverse, successful and forward-thinking culture.To view the full issue of The Financial Technologist magazine click here
What do successful Series-A have to do with inclusion?By LiFT - Be someone else’s next stepWe created LiFT in 2019 with a clear objective. We want to be someone else’s next step. This means that we want to provide companies and individuals with the means to go further in their development, to reach higher in their ambitions and to be happier with their realizations. What we are convinced of is that this cannot be achieved if we work according to a linear vision of growth. As economist Kate Raworth puts it with herDoughnut economicsmodel, the most efficient growth model is about finding a soft spot of growth balance where we can collectively get all richer and happier. This is what inclusion is about.At LiFT, we focus on a specific target. We primarily address FinTech start-ups either preparing for Series-A or that just completed Series-A and have to deliver on their commitment to their investors. This time of the life of a start-up is critical. With the right talents, in the right seats, supported by the adequate corporate culture, a companycan really use the resources flowing through the organisation during this period to build rock-solid foundations. The other way around, if nothing is put in place at that time to consciously define an innovative and efficient management model, the performance of the company will suffer from it until this is corrected.This is why we make it a priority to provide start-ups with the tools and frameworks to design inclusive management models, inclusive recruitment programs and inclusive growth-sharing strategies. These services all have in common to support FinTech Start-ups to complete seed and Series-A funding rounds, and to make their 18 months runway post funding a success. The key challenge of this stage of development is to deal with the growing institutionalization of the organisation. As the company grows communication channels become less direct and conflicts can multiply.Training CEOs and Managers to deal with this phenomenon of institutionalization ofa growing start-up is a great way to secure growth on the long term while fostering an inclusive corporate culture. Only 20% of start-ups manage to go from seed to Series-A. The odds are more favorable for start-ups going from Series-A to Series-B but what is interesting is that 25% of start-ups failures are due to not having the right team in place. So the market need is here, the money is here but either the skills balance or the management system or both, are missing. Our mission is to increase start-ups' success rates by addressing these challenges.This is how inclusion in the FinTech start-ups can become a reality. Upstream, education programs to promote FinTech careers to diverse talents are key. Downstream, when a start-up already exists, its primary focus is to secure growth. As it is a riskier environment than incumbent banks or established scale-ups, it tends to drive away people with less of a safety net or more risk averse by education. Finding the right balance between growth ambition and attractive culture often relies on having an inclusive mindset. And this actually can be achieved by having an excellence mindset. If, as an entrepreneur, I put all my efforts into finding the absolute best candidate for each job, rather than going for the easy way of hiring within my natural ecosystem, I will end up leading an inclusive company and most likely a very successful one too!Magdalena Thurin & Marie-Charlotte Johnstone-RouzierCo-Founder, Co-Foundermagdalena@wearelift.eu & firstname.lastname@example.orgRead Issue 1 2022 of the Financial Technologist here.